This first hand takes place in a $5-$10 full-ring game on Pokerloco. One player had limped in and I held the Ah-Qd and raised from middle position. The button cold called the raise behind me and everyone else folded except the original limper who called.

Before we move on it is worth pointing out that the raise has several purposes. Firstly it is looking to get more money into the pot with the likely best hand. But what you also have to remember is that the variance is so high in limit that you are always only just on the right side of gambling in many situations. It always pays to remember this the next time you moan about losing 100 big bets.

You are also looking to try to ascertain what the situation is in this hand. How good is your A-Q against the field? How many players will be seeing the flop? How good will your hand be on the flop? All these questions and more are part of the reason for raising and I would also like to get the hand heads-up with position even if it is a full-ring game.

The plan on the flop changes with each caller that enters. We already know that the limper will not fold to the single raise so we know that we will have at least one opponent here. If I get three bet by a normal player then I will know that my A-Q is now marginal at best and badly dominated at worst and play accordingly.

Raising allows me to be able to assess the flop and decide on the correct strategy to use. The button cold calling me has already altered my game plan because now I know that there will be at least two opponents on the flop and not one. The original limper calls and we have a three-way pot.

Before the flop comes down, I think that it is only best to mention at this stage that I find that two and three opponents to be pivotal in my decision to continuation bet overcards. Against three opponents it is very rare for me to get involved with betting overcards if it is checked to me or I am first to act. Trying to bet through three opponents just isn’t a good idea and especially when they figure that you have not connected with the board.

With two opponents then the situation becomes somewhat marginalised and now it depends on what I know about the players and I will be checking my Poker Office HUD here for more details (providing I can be bothered to turn the damn thing on that is).

In this hand the flop came 5c-4d-2s giving me a gutshot straight draw to go with my overcards. The limper checked and now the action was on me. In this situation with two opponents and a board that not only offers me some potential but also has likely missed my opponents as well then I will bet here.

Your only stumbling block here can be when you are against certain players who may raise you on the flop to see where they stand. Some players who cold call a raise when they have position look to try and exert post flop influence. In a way, if the button raises you then they are doing you a favour if the raise knocks out the limper.

A LAG on the button could get tricky and this is where you need your HUD. Although most LAG’s will frequent six max and not full-ring so a raise here could be with a hand like 99-77. How this hand played out is of little importance to the article and the point is to highlight how I play in certain situations.

But as I said in the previous article, these are my opinions and my opinions only and not set in stone answers. These are merely plays that I feel to be right based on playing experience. But the online environment is forever changing and strategic plays that have merit today may not have merit next year or the year after.

For instance, I feel that the continuation bet in no-limit hold’em has lost some of its value and certainly in higher stakes games. It still has tremendous value of course, it is just that in my opinion and that of an awful lot of professionals, its widespread use has blunted its latent power somewhat.

Carl Sampson

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Playing Overcards in Limit Hold'em: Part 1
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